Recipe 24: Sarah Field Splint’s Ring-Tum-Diddy (1929)

I decided to do this one because I had no idea what a “ring-tum-diddy” was and was sold based on the name alone.

The recipe comes from a book called 199 Selected Recipes by Sarah Field Splint through Procter and Gamble. Apparently, it was published for the purposes of promoting Crisco, although this recipe does not contain that as an ingredient. The cover is torn off of the booklet that I have, and I have seen various publication dates listed (Wikipedia has it as 1929, so I will stick with that). I learned that in addition to her being active in the publication of various books and magazines concerning homemaking she was also an active feminist, even going so far as to be active in the Heterodoxy group, a group of even more ardent suffragists (I had to look Heterodoxy up…I had NO IDEA what that was about).

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons Accessed 26 May 2020

Anyway, I think the question that we all have is “What the heck is a ring-tum-diddy?” There are various spellings (ring-tum-ditty, rinktum ditty, rinktum diddy) but they all consist of the same basic ingredients: melted cheese and some kind of tomato paste, sauce, or soup served on bread. The blog The World’s Fare has as really nice post with some of the history behind this dish, saying that it seems to have been akin to a Welsh rarebit (that’s another strangely named dish I’m going to attempt at some point) that originated in England and spread to the United States. But what does “rinktum” mean?!?!?! I can’t seem to find a clear answer on that one. I would appreciate any help to answer that question…my sussing skills are failing me.

The recipe is as follows:

½ pound grated American cheese
½ teaspoon salt
Few grains cayenne
1 can tomato soup
Toasted crackers

Melt cheese in a saucepan over a slow fire. Add salt, cayenne, and tomato soup. Stir until well mixed and heat thoroughly. Serve on toasted crackers.

I thought that surely with only two main ingredients I could make this without difficulty, but in the “cheese melting” portion of the recipe it was touch and go for a little bit.

So, the first step is to actually grate the cheese. I’ll be honest, I was unsure if blocks of American cheese were actually sold because I have only seen them as the cheap individually wrapped slices. I was pleasantly surprised that there is a nice selection available.

I love the look of irritation when I was interrupted doing this important task. Cheese grating is serious business!

Once the cheese is grated, melt the cheese in a saucepan. Unsure of what a “slow fire” equaled on my stove’s settings, I tried it on low at first but grew impatient and turned up the heat to medium.

And then this happened:

I frantically Googled “can stringy melted cheese be fixed” and the resounding answer was “No!” but I pressed on and eventually the cheese smoothed out.

Next, add the tomato soup, salt, and cayenne pepper.

Again, the cheese started to look like a big gloppy mess, but now with tomato soup on top of it!

At this point, I really wasn’t sure how I was going to salvage this recipe but wasn’t too worried because it’s not like I’ve never screwed up a recipe before. I asked my husband what he would do, and he suggested that we add a little milk to the recipe and a miracle occurred…everything smoothed out into a nice, creamy dip (I promise)!

This was the final product:

It just took a little milk and some simmering, but eventually,w e got everything to meld together and we had a very nice dish! It reminded us of the Rotel/Velveeta combination queso dip that we used to make as kids but without all of the spice of the peppers.

Time Travel Experience: My cookbook was undated and I was surprised to find that it is 91 years old. I thought it was cool to have a book in my hands that was used when my grandmother was in grade school. The dish is much older than that (if you count going back to the Welsh rarebit origins, it is centuries old). My favorite parts of these experiments are always learning about the people that made the recipes and what their lives were like, and I learned today that the Heterodoxy group was a thing. I don’t think I would ever have come across that group otherwise.

Overall Experience: This made a good side dish and I would make it again. I was afraid the tomato soup would make it too acidic but it was balanced nicely by the cheese. I learned that gloppy, stringy cheese CAN be fixed with some whole milk (thank you, husband). I would definitely make this again. 9/10!

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